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Beware the counter-offer

13 November 2019

Beware the counter-offer

At Winberg Associates, we’ve noticed that the number of candidates being made a counter-offer is rising steadily. What do you do if you’re in this situation? What are the reasons behind your employer’s offer? And is it ever a good idea to accept?

You’ve been offered another job and are thinking hard about taking it. There will be a number of things running through your mind. You’ll be thinking about whether it actually solves your work problem; if it really does tick all the boxes; and if it makes you feel excited about a fresh start or fearful about leaving what you know.

Once you’ve considered long and hard you may well choose to accept the offer and resign from your current job. Now comes the challenge: arming yourself to resist the strong-arm tactics your employer may use to persuade you to stay.

Understanding what your employer’s thinking.

It is almost always a costly irritation for employers to recruit a replacement. More often than not they’ll do all they can to keep you. Large sums of money or increased benefits, titles and promises for the future may be wafted under your nose. Or they may try more subtle tactics, ramping up the emotional and psychological pressure. It can be very tempting to accept.

If you could see into your boss’s brain here’s what they may be thinking:

“This couldn’t be happening at a worse time. They’re one of my best people. If they quit now, it’ll wreak havoc on the morale of the department. We’re working with a skeleton crew already. If I lose this one, we’ll all be working around the clock just to stay even – I don’t need extra work on top of my own. Even worse, if I lose another good employee, the company might decide to ‘lose’ me too. Here’s a thought: maybe I can keep this guy on until I find a suitable replacement.”

That could be where your real problems begin. Now they know you are discontented, they’ll regard you as a ‘problem employee’. Besides which, the real reasons for wanting to change your job may not have gone away.

Ten reasons not to accept a counter-offer

  1. Your employer now knows you’re unhappy. From this day on your commitment will always be in question.

  2. When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember who is loyal and who isn’t.

  3. When times get tough, the chances are the cutbacks will begin with you.

  4. Accepting a counter-offer is an insult to your intelligence. You didn’t know what was best for you.

  5. Accepting a counter-offer is a blow to your personal pride, knowing you were ‘bought’.

  6. Where is the money for the counter-offer coming from? Is it a pay rise you would have got anyway?

  7. Statistics show that if you accept a counter-offer, there is a 90% chance you’ll be out of the job within six months.

  8. What type of a company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you’re worth?

  9. Why didn’t they pay you that before? It was because they didn’t think you were worth it.

  10. Why are they paying it to you now? Because it’s easier and cheaper for them to keep you while they sort the problem out.


Those are all the logical reasons to stand firm and resist any counter-offer. However, logic can go by the by when your boss goes on the charm offensive.

Five common arguments to keep you at your desk

  1. “I’m really shocked. I thought you were as happy with us as we are with you. Let’s discuss it before you make your final decision.”

  2. “Aw gee. I’ve been meaning to tell you about the great plans we have for you, but it’s been confidential until now.”

  3. “The VP has you in mind for some exciting new responsibilities.”

  4. “We were going to give you a pay rise next quarter. How about we make it effective immediately.”

  5. “How can you do this in the middle of a major project? We were really counting on you.”


Think about what’s best for you

Let’s face it, when someone quits it’s a direct reflection on the boss – unless you’re really incompetent or a destructive thorn in their side. It’s an implied insult to their management skills and if you’re going to leave they’ll want it to be on their terms.

The moral of the story: Don’t accept counter-offers because they’ll only end in tears.


Winberg Associates provides a consultative platform for candidates and clients to consider options when faced with this situation. For a confidential, informal discussion on any similar issues you are experiencing or have experienced, call us on 0203 865 6207 or email

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